The Cardinals got a day off today from practice before doing two more workouts Friday and Saturday, which is the Fan Fest workout. After slamming into each other for three straight days, it’s good to get a reprieve. And to think, with practice just across town at University of Phoenix Stadium, it’s easy to pop home for the day. I know I appreciate it.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “Get your mind away from football for a day. Guys who have family can spend time with their young ones, like myself. Just rest our bodies and come back to work the next day.”
– Speaking of Fan Fest, click here for all the details of the practice.
– What stood out through the first five days of practice? WR John Brown, obviously. Confidence in CB Justin Bethel’s progress. Thinking that TE John Carlson, if he can stay off the injury report, could have a very nice year catching the ball. Kareem Martin is going to have a key role on the defensive line, I think. Michael Floyd is destined to improve on his season a year ago.
– I’m off to Canton tomorrow to cover the induction of cornerback Aeneas Williams into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. I’ll still have stuff on the blog from both Canton and training camp, and my cohort Kyle Odegard will be the boots on the ground at University of Phoenix Stadium. He did a nice piece on Bobby Massie today. Speaking of Aeneas, I hope you’ve been checking out all the content on the special Aeneas Williams page (azcardinals.com/aeneas). I’ll have a big story on Williams posted tomorrow first thing.
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Ever since the summer, it’s more than just media and fans that have gotten involved in the Patrick Peterson vs. Richard Sherman back-and-forth. So too have Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, including this morning after it was known Peterson’s new contract is slightly better than the one Sherman signed earlier this year.
There have been times the tweets (or retweets of others) have been quite a jab. But Peterson said it’s simply fun — although he wouldn’t speak for Sherman.
“I don’t how he feels about it, but I think it’s fun, healthy competition,” Peterson said. “I’m having fun with it, sometimes it seems like he’s a little salty with it. I don’t have any problems with Richard. I don’t have any beef with him. I am having fun. I don’t know if he’s having fun. We have had our exchanges over the last month or so and obviously he is still exchanging words this morning, but it is what it is. I have no ill feelings toward Richard. I wish him the best of luck throughout his career and season and I guess it’ll be must-watch TV when we play Seattle.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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Not a lot newsy out of Bruce Arians’ presser today. Patrick Peterson’s contract and press conference is dominating (and I’ll have that story in a bit). One Peterson thing to pass along from Arians however. He was talking about Peterson’s abilities, and the stats, and B.A. has already made it clear how he doesn’t see how outsiders can truly judge Peterson’s play. He noted how he was watching the Calvin Johnson TD catch from the Lions-Cards game last year, and how whoever was on TV was blaming Peterson for the play.
“There was a pass he gets blamed for, and they are saying lazy technique,” Arians said. “It was zone coverage and the inside guy should have picked it off. Karlos (let it go) through his hands. It’s not his man. The people who watch those things and stat them, they don’t know what we are asking him to do.”
Not that it matters. The Cardinals paid Peterson and they and Peterson himself believe in what he is.
Arians called him the “perfect citizen.” He also said that while the contract situation would not have affected Peterson, he was happy to avoid the distraction through the media had it not been done.
– Arians said there was nothing new on the injury front. LB Lorenzo Alexander will skip practice today in a move that was scheduled. RB Andre Ellington and DT Dan Williams are both expected back at practice Friday.
– Tight end Darren Fells “got my attention for the first time” in Tuesday’s practice, Arians said, especially with his blocking.
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Now that Patrick Peterson has his new contract and has a deal through the 2020 season, it makes a lot of sense how jovial Peterson has been the last few days. You would be happy too if you were about to get millions and millions of dollars. As with most NFL contracts, it’s doubtful Peterson will get through 2020 and get all of the scheduled money without needing/wanting to re-do the deal, but that doesn’t matter right now.
The details of the contracts are still to be put out there. We’ll see how much is really guaranteed (Peterson said it was $48 million, but most of the time, those initial numbers are someone inflated under the microscope) but I have little doubt he’ll come out ahead of Richard Sherman’s recent extension, which I am sure was important to him. He’s also the first first-round draft pick from the 2011 draft — the first draft under the new CBA, the one that suppressed the rookie contracts so much. Now the rest of that class — Cam Newton, Von Miller, J.J. Watt and so on — have to figure out what the Cardinals and Peterson already have.
It was inevitable the Cardinals and Peterson were going to get this done. It was always a question of when and not if. The two sides have been talking for months for a reason. The Cardinals were motivated and of course, Peterson was. Now it’s out of the way, and Peterson will be about concentrating on being the best cornerback in the league.
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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The Cardinals collected a handful of injuries on their first day of padded practice, the most serious of which is the left calf injury to starting center Lyle Sendlein that will sideline Sendlein for three weeks, coach Bruce Arians said. In his place, Ted Larsen will play center. It’s not a huge deal, since Sendlein will return in camp and is experienced enough to overcome missing practice.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is also expected to miss four or five days with a pectoral injury, while running back Andre Ellington (neck) will miss Tuesday’s work. Also hurting are linebacker Ernie Sims (back spasms), nose tackle Christian Topou (groin) and cornerback Todd Washington (groin). The Topou injury is interesting because fellow nose tackles Dan Williams (knee) and Alameda Ta’amu (PUP – knee) are already sitting. All hands on deck, Arians said, which means some mixing and matching on the defensive line.
– The news came out that linebacker John Abraham, who has been absent from training camp thus far, was arrested for a DUI in Georgia in late June. Arians had no comment, other than to say he knew of the arrest and was actually in Georgia at the same time. Arians also had no comment when asked if the arrest had anything to do with Abraham’s absence, and said he does not know when Abraham will show up to camp. Given Abraham’s experience, missing some training camp isn’t the worst thing in the world. But he barely was on the field all of the offseason too, and the sack production on the roster beyond him is extremely limited. His situation will be important to watch as the days pass.
– Arians said LB Sam Acho had a good day in his first padded practice with a couple of forced fumbles and with his pass rush, a big deal given the Abraham circumstances.
– The kicking rotation will remain with two guys going in a day and the third resting. As for Arians’ evaluation so far, “Cat (Chandler Catanzaro) has been perfect, that’s the only impression I can gather from it. The rest of the guys haven’t been. The numbers don’t lie.” As for the eventual decision, “We’ll see how they do in games. Practices are one thing, games are another. I’ve seen Jay in games for 12 years so I don’t need to see Jay in a lot of games. I know he’s got nerves. The other two guys, you want to see them do it in front of the crowd.”
– Former Cardinals tackle Eric Winston finally found a team Tuesday, signing with the Seahawks.
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The first padded practice was exactly what you’d want — eventful, with a lot of hitting. Unfortunately, such things can come with a price. Starting center Lyle Sendlein left early in the workout during one-on-one drills with the defensive line after hurting his left calf. No word on the seriousness of the injury. Ted Larsen stepped in to play center on the first unit and as 11-on-11 began, you could tell the chemistry with Larsen and QB Carson Palmer were not there. There were a couple of misplayed snaps/fumbles in the first few plays. It got ironed out. We’ll see what will happen with Sendlein.
Otherwise, the hitting was intense. During the pass protection drills between the linebackers and tight ends/running backs, it’s tough to see Bruce Arians get any more fired up than he did with that. There were some incredible collisions, including when linebacker Kenny Demens just crushed running back Damien Thigpen (who, to be fair, is only 5-8 and 180).
But it was hard not to notice that rookie wide receiver John Brown, who everyone raved about but said needed to wear pads and prove it that way, still shined. His first long pass after putting on pads, he beat cornerback Justin Bethel — who isn’t exactly slow — by a couple of steps and hauled in an 82-yard touchdown in stride. More on Brown on the homepage in a bit.
In other notes:
– Sendlein wasn’t the only injury. Defensive tackle is becoming an issue. Alameda Ta’amu is already on PUP and Dan Williams sat out with a sore left knee, so Christian Tupou stepped in in the middle of the 3-4 defense — only to leave early with what looked like some kind of right thigh injury. He walked off the field at the end of practice, though, having taken off his ice wrap, so it may not be a big deal.
– The fears of having a big hitter at safety: On one play, wide receiver Jaron Brown couldn’t hold on to a pass in the end zone with cornerback Jerraud Powers behind him and rookie safety Deone Bucannon coming at his chest. But Bucannon was a step or two away, and popped him (not full on) after Brown dropped the pass. Arians yelled across the field, “That’s a flag” so Bucannon understood that just can’t happen in today’s game. It was bang-bang, but Arians is right — it probably draws a penalty.
– The Cardinals ran a “fire” field goal drill on a “mishandled” snap. Holder Dave Zastudil rolled left and lofted a pass toward undrafted rookie tackle Kelvin Palmer. Palmer, 6-4 and 302, made a great catch while shielding the ball with his body from coverage linebacker Alex Okafor. I wish I had a picture or video. It was impressive from the big man.
– Former Cardinals offensive lineman Leonard “Bigg” Davis made an appearance on the sideline, as did former safety Kwamie Lassiter.
Tags: Christian Tupou, Damien Thigpen, Dan Williams, Dave Zastudil, Deone Bucannon, John Brown, Kelvin Palmer, Kenny Demens, Leonard Davis, Lyle Sendlein, Ted Larsen, training camp
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Coach Bruce Arians said he was happy padded practice arrived Monday afternoon because Sunday “we were way too active to be in shorts.” The pads will make it seem a lot like football — the first two days of camp just seem like a continuation of the offseason OTAs (which gets old after a while). The pads will stay on too, Arians said.
“With the limited time you can hit now, you can’t hit enough in my opinion,” Arians said. “You only get 15 practices before you are playing games. The evaluation process … most of it has been about how mentally can they handle the job, now it’s whether they can actually play. You can’t get enough evaluations in that situation.”
Arians will dial it down when the Cardinals trim to the 53-man roster. Until then, though, let the hitting commence.
– The swollen left knee of DT Dan Williams is not serious, Arians said, stemming from an old injury. Williams is getting an MRI but he should not miss much time. Everyone else is ready to practice, save for absent LB John Abraham.
– Thus far, Logan Thomas has received all the QB 11-on-11 reps that have not gone to Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton. That will change, Arians said, but we’ll see how soon. “Ryan is going to get the short end of the stick for a little bit because Logan is new,” Arians said.
– Arians said he considered center Lyle Sendlein underrated. Sendlein does fly under the radar but he is respected by this staff, which — if you can do after a full coaching change — is impressive.
– When the pads go on, there is always the threat of a scuffle breaking out. It’s unlikely at Cards camp, though, because Arians leaves little doubt how he feels about in-fighting.
“The first thing you do is break your hand,” Arians said. “Might as well punch the wall. If you want to break your hand, break your hand. If you want to fight I’ll put boxing gloves on you and you can fight your ass off. That’s what Coach (Bear) Bryant used to do. Want to fight? Wear 18-pound gloves, and they were not allowed to stop swinging.
Arians was asked how it would end. “They both passed out. It only happened once. (Now,) the CBA might frown on it.”
Arians did say he wouldn’t fine a guy for fighting. “No. I’ll cut ‘em,” Arians said. “There’s always a threat of that.”
Tags: Bear Bryant, Bruce Arians, Dan Williams, John Abraham, Logan Thomas, Lyle Sendlein, Ryan Lindley
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The Cardinals will put on the pads for the first time this afternoon, which changes the dynamic of training camp. That was part of the theme today when GM Steve Keim went on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 620 this morning — what will happen when the pads go on.
– Keim wants to see rookie WR John Brown in pads, and see what the kid can do coming across the middle when, say safety Deone Bucannon is about to drill him. That’s not a big surprise, since it’s what everyone has been saying about Brown. He’s been impressive. “We haven’t been able to cover him,” Keim said. But that could change when the pads go on. As Patrick Peterson said, after Brown burned him on a play, “I told him he’s not going to be that much faster than me when he’s got those shoulder pads on.”
– Keim said he thought right tackle Bobby Massie looks like he’s in the best shape of his career (and I have always thought Massie was in pretty good shape anyway) and “he looks focused.” But Keim wants to see Massie in pads too, and frankly, that’s the only real way to judge linemen.
– The GM admitted to having a concern in the offseason for guard Jonathan Cooper after noticing a “little limp,” but the first two practices have erased those concerns.
– Asked about absent linebacker John Abraham, Keim said “I’m not concerned at all. He’ll be back at some point here and Bruce (Arians) has excused him for personal matters.”
– With Aeneas Williams going into the Hall of Fame Saturday, we have created a page for Aeneas (azcardinals.com/aeneas) where all the stories and videos about Williams will live. Check it out.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Bobby Massie, John Abraham, John Brown, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, training camp
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Bruce Arians said today that the starting right tackle and starting right guard positions are Bobby Massie’s and Paul Fanaika’s to lose, which he also said has more to do with how well they are doing than what Bradley Sowell and Earl Watford are not doing. Arians even said Massie did not show up on the mental-error sheet from Saturday’s first practice, which is a big deal. “We’re not going to shuffle a lot anymore,”Arians said, although he emphasized “there is plenty of time to win or lose a job once we start hitting.”
The pads go on Monday.
Watford is “more than ready” to contend for a starting job, Arians said but Fanaika is playing well. And again, things can change. “If anyone says they are starting you are writing the wrong thing,” Arians said with a chuckle.
In other news:
– Much more in a Patrick Peterson story here, but the Pro Bowl cornerback will not be playing receiver or returning punts this season. Neither move is a surprise, although Arians said Tyrann Mathieu’s injury did not play a factor. Peterson also said he is not unhappy he doesn’t yet have a new contract. “Those guys are still talking,” Peterson said, in reference to ongoing contract negotiations. “I’m here to play football. I have two years left on my deal and I want to do the best I can to help this team win. I haven’t been to the playoffs since I’ve been here and that’s my first goal.”
– Tight end Jake Ballard is the first injury of camp, although Arians said his thigh bruise is minor. He’ll skip today’s practice but could be back Monday.
– Arians said he was disappointed in the number of mental errors committed by offensive veterans on Saturday.
– LB John Abraham remains absent. “I won’t really comment on it,” Arians said. “I won’t get into personal things. He’s got my blessing.”
– Arians did say he has been impressed with the work second-year OLB Alex Okafor has done since he got hurt last season as a rookie. Okafor is working with the first unit in place of Abraham.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Earl Watford, Jake Ballard, John Abraham, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, training camp, Tyrann Mathieu
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For awhile, Larry Fitzgerald was the only one on the field.
It was Friday, and the Cardinals were scheduled to have their conditioning test in a matter of minutes and Fitz was out, warming up by his lonesome. Turned out that the strength and conditioning staff had their own warmup planned, and the Cardinals were going to come out on the field together led by Bruce Arians. But Fitz didn’t know that yet and he wanted to make sure he was ready to run. In the end, he didn’t have to run as much as the other receivers — those long-time vets were subtly pulled out by Arians — but Fitz was ready. He is still driven to be as good as he ever was, and that includes running at the outset of camp.
But the NFL isn’t just about work ethic and talent. It’s about business and the salary cap and the puzzle that is a pro roster. So the months are going by and Fitzgerald’s future in Arizona is coming to a watershed moment. This is a subject that has been touched on many times, by myself and others. Kent Somers has a quality, detailed breakdown of Fitzgerald’s bulky contract right here.
Next year, Fitz’s salary is more than $15 million. He also is due a roster bonus in early March of $8 million, a mechanism used in many contracts in large part to force a decision by the team. Something will have to happen by then. Those two numbers are how his cap figure jumps to more $23 million next year. (A trade isn’t happening, by the way. The Cardinals absorb more than $14 million in dead cap money whether they trade him or cut him, but a trade means the new team has to inherit that contract. I don’t see anyone taking on such a contract.) Kent suggests a new deal paying Fitz between $6M and $8M could make it work. I guess the question would be what Fitz might make on the open market.
None of this is new news, really, other than the passage of time. This was created not just when Fitz signed his last contract extension in 2011 but also when he got his previous one in 2008 and even when he signed his rookie deal. That the Cardinals will have made it through 11 seasons is impressive in itself. The new CBA of 2011, which flattened the cap, and the reality of Fitz simply getting older also are factors.
So much depends on what Fitz will want to do. I don’t see a scenario other that a pay reduction in which Fitz stays in Arizona. I think it’ll matter how he does this season, his second in Arians’ offense. I think how the team does will matter. I truly believe the decision won’t just be about money with him. Once, I don’t think I would have said that. But he is and always will be a megastar in Arizona, regardless of what happens on the field, and if he went elsewhere, it wouldn’t be the same.
The Cardinals want Fitz to stay around. I think Fitz wants to stay around. I think Fitz would rather think about where his name might be emblazoned in University of Phoenix Stadium for the Ring of Honor rather than his contract. We’ll see. There’s a season to play, and Fitz is focused on getting ready for that. But the future eventually becomes the present.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap
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